Sarah Snook Applauds ‘Succession’ Writers on Their Handling of Her Unplanned Pregnancy

Snook said her surprise pregnancy wasn’t treated as a burden—the creators happily built a whole brilliant storyline around supporting and accommodating her.

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Sarah Snook Applauds ‘Succession’ Writers on Their Handling of Her Unplanned Pregnancy
Photo:Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Months after ruining all of our lives with Succession’s brilliant series finale, Sarah Snook, who played Shiv Roy, dished details to Variety that have only made me miss the show more.

In an interview published on Wednesday, Snook revealed that her IRL pregnancy “wasn’t a planned thing” ahead of filming for Season 4. She was initially nervous about how it would impact the show: “I think the fear from women can be that they will be sidelined, or considered less-than,” Snook said, which Variety separately notes is “how Shiv was treated her whole life within the Roy dynasty.” But this wasn’t the response from the show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong, at all. His attitude, Snook recounted, was, “Bring it—let’s work out how we can make this work for you. Not ‘You ruined my story! You ruined my imagination games!’”

I hate that Armstrong’s reaction seems to have been something of an outlier to Snook when it should be the norm. We’re all told motherhood is beautiful and natural until it comes to fundamental things like, say, basic workplace accommodations. But instead of writing Snook out, cutting her screen time, or otherwise sidelining and punishing her, Armstrong and the Succession writers used her pregnancy as a launching point for the most compelling storyline of the season. Shiv’s pregnancy becomes the focal point of Succession Season 4, lying at the heart of her biggest fight with husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew MacFadyen)—a fight that defines both of their characters. And it’s the impetus for the haunting ending of the series, when Roman (Kieran Culkin) points out that Logan’s family line—ahem, the line of Succession—lives through Shiv and not Kendall’s “rando” kids. The very revelation of her pregnancy is one of the biggest twists of the season, second only to Logan Roy’s death.

In other words, Snook’s pregnancy wasn’t treated as a burden. The show built an entire, brilliant storyline around supporting and accommodating her.

Snook also tells Variety that she revealed that she was pregnant to the show’s crew on the evening in November when she and MacFadyen filmed Tom and Shiv’s iconic balcony fight, during which Tom—who doesn’t know Shiv is pregnant—tells her she wouldn’t be a good mother. “So when I hear that line, ‘Maybe you’re not going to be a good mom’—maybe that’s me hearing it, just as much as it is Shiv. Because that’s a pretty horrible thing to say to somebody!” Snook said, explaining just how personal and visceral Shiv’s pregnancy storyline was for her.

In addition to the support she received from Armstrong, Snook said the show as a whole was a supportive environment for her throughout her pregnancy. In particular, where the show—following famous method actor Jeremy Strong’s lead—frequently practices improv and films scenes unrehearsed, Snook says her final, surprisingly physical fight scene with on-screen brother Kendall Roy (Strong) was extensively choreographed and rehearsed to be mindful of her pregnancy:

Originally, it was meant to be more between Shiv and Kendall who are fighting—potentially pulling a phone out, and throwing it at Kendall, and having it escalate like that. We had a choreography rehearsal between Jeremy and I. And then on the day, I felt good about being able to advocate for myself, going, ‘Let’s just remember this is a fight scene that we haven’t really properly rehearsed that we’re sort of feeling out with a pregnant woman.’

God I miss this show. All of that’s to say, I hope Succession isn’t just a model to other shows for its brilliant writing, but also for its treatment of pregnant talent.

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